Fans maneuver to catch action at Harding Park

What the weather lacked in hospitality on Saturday, Tiger Woods more than made up for with his thrilling play as far as the fans were concerned at The Presidents Cup.

After an unusually sunny day on Friday, the weather returned to more normal fare at Harding Park — cloudy and cool — but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands who descended upon the municipal course for the third day of the four-day event.</p>

With play centered around just a few holes due to the unique match play format of The Presidents Cup, crowds estimated at around 28,000 frequently ran five to six rows deep from the ropes and even 15 to 20 in some spots — especially when the focus was on Woods. Fans hoping to get a view of the superstar, who hit two stirring shots that propelled his twosome to a come-from-behind victory during morning play, had to be prepared and plucky.

“You just have to keep moving,” said Erik Nation, an Oakland native. “With match play, it’s a little tougher getting around, but if you’ve got a game plan you can make out the action all right.”

“It’s a little challenging, but that’s part of the fun,” agreed Guy Canha, a San Jose resident who was attending The Presidents Cup for the second straight day. “You know you’ve got to get up and run to the next spot if you want to get a good view.”

While dignitaries from around the world showed up Saturday to watch the event, which pits 12 golfers from the U.S. against 12 international golfers — there was a strong local showing as well, with splashes of 49ers, Giants and A’s sports apparel dotting the crowds.

Many of the locals expressed admiration for the improvements The City has made to Harding Park, which had fallen into disrepair and neglect until it was extensively renovated in 2003.

“This used to be a briar patch,” said David Thielke, a San Francisco native. “I can’t believe what they’ve done with it. It looks like a beautiful course now.”

With a trim course, a strong performance from Woods, and an overall impressive effort from the U.S. squad, fans had to little to gripe about on Saturday — except of course, the gloomy
weather.

“You know, I wish it was a little warmer out,” said Ken Oshidari of Stockton. “But with what I’ve seen today, I think I’ll be able
to cope.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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